Rockies owner happy to have presence in Grand Junction
The move just felt right.
When Dick and Charlie Monfort started talking about moving the Colorado Rockies Rookie franchise out of Casper, Wyo., Grand Junction was a natural.
“As we look around and we think of our brand, the Colorado Rockies and where we play, it would be nice to have them play closer to Denver,” said Dick Monfort, the owner/chairman and CEO of the Colorado Rockies and majority owner of the Grand Junction Rockies.
Monfort was in Grand Junction on Tuesday to talk about professional baseball finally becoming a reality on the Western Slope.
“Casper is about the same distance as this, but it’s in Wyoming, it’s a smaller community, and Grand Junction sort of sits out here in no-man’s land. We wanted a tie between Grand Junction and Denver,” Monfort said.
The deal was approved by the Grand Junction City Council on Oct. 17, and in those four weeks, more than 400 season tickets have been sold, said Tim Ray, the club’s general manager.
The Ghosts were in Casper 10 years and were never highly successful on the field. Monfort wants to see that change, and believes it will.
“That is our lowest-level team,” he said. “Most of the teams that we play against, it’s their second-level team. One of the reasons their record has not been great in the past is they’re really playing up a grade, so to speak.
“That will change over the next couple of years as we put our lower level down in Scottsdale (Ariz.) and this becomes our second level.”
Six of the eight Pioneer League teams have Rookie affiliates in the Arizona League. Grand Junction and Great Falls, Mont., (Chicago White Sox) do not, so their rosters are made up of players straight out of the amateur draft.
Once the Rockies send their first-year players to Arizona, the Grand Junction club will have those second- and third-year players. Even so, Monfort expects to see a high level of play in Grand Junction, although it’s a developmental league.
“Wins and losses aren’t always our primary deal, it’s making sure everybody gets an opportunity to play, not like in high school, but an opportunity to pitch enough innings, to get enough at-bats to see what we’ve got,” Monfort said.
Tony Diaz will remain the field manager of the Grand Junction Rockies, but his staff hasn’t been finalized.
The roster won’t be determined until after the June amateur draft and a 10-day training camp in Scottsdale.
After that camp, the team will move to Grand Junction, where, the Rockies hope, host families will be waiting.
“I think it’s one of the most important things we do,” Ray said. “It brings the fans and the players together in a different light, away from the field. They get to know these players in a one-on-one situation.”
The host families’ responsibilities are simple: Provide shelter, Ray said.
“What they make of it is up to them,” he said. “If they want to feed them three squares a day, that’s great; if not, that’s great. The only thing we require is a safe environment for our players and transportation to and from the stadium.”
The club also unveiled the official logo, which mirrors the Colorado Rockies logo, with a couple of noticeable changes.
Instead of “Colorado” arching over the top, it reads “Grand Junction.”
The biggest change are the flat mountains, in honor of Grand Mesa, the backdrop for the GJ Rockies’ new home, Suplizio Field. Suplizio Field is in the midst of an $8.3 million renovation that is scheduled to be completed in early May.
The club is awaiting approval on the cap logo, an interlocking GJ, in the same style and color scheme as the big club’s interlocking CR.
Season tickets, $299 for all 38 home games, can be purchased by calling 970-255-ROCK (7625). The club’s website, gjrockies.com, should launch in the next few days, Ray said.
There was discussion about having a fan contest to rename the club after a year or two, but right now, Monfort said, that’s not the plan.
“Everything is always open and we’d have to have the OK (from Minor League Baseball),” he said. “I believe it is our desire for them to be the Grand Junction Rockies.”